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Several palaeoclimate proxy records have been interpreted as representing the direct effects of Tibetan uplift on climate, and particularly the intensity of the Asian summer monsoon. However, there are other possible causes for the transitions and changes which have been observed, such as varying greenhouse gas concentrations, nodes or extremes in orbital forcing, and changing continental configurations. In this study we model the direct effects of Tibetan uplift on sea surface temperatures (SSTs), vegetation, and river discharge. We investigate whether these climatic effects of topographic uplift are likely to be detectable in proxy records, and also whether the proxies could be used to distinguish between different paradigms for the history of plateau uplift. We find that the SSTs in the western Pacific, South China Sea and Indian Ocean are generally insensitive to Tibetan uplift; however, vegetation in the region of the plateau itself, and river discharge from the Yangtze, Pearl, and in particular the Ganges/Brahmaputra, could provide a good test of our understanding of Tibetan uplift history.

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